AUBURN, Ga. - An Auburn man was charged with murder and animal cruelty after allegedly shooting and killing his neighbor and the neighbor's dog, according to the Auburn Police Department.
"He was so kind and so giving and he loved our animals," Beth Wilson said.
Beth’s husband, Paul, was walking his dogs in the couple's neighborhood after returning to his Crest Pointe Court home from work just after 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
"I heard three or four gunshots and I just knew it was him," Beth said.
Police said Paul was shot and killed by his neighbor, 46-year-old Larry Russell Bates. Investigators believe the two argued briefly before the shooting.
Wilson's widow and other family members said they believe Bates stalked Wilson the night of the murder, following him down the street before killing him and a family dog.
"He waits for my husband to come home every night, peeks through his blinds that were closed we were watched 24/7," said Beth.
The Wilson's home sits across the street from the residence Bates shares with his girlfriend. The Wilson family said Bates began harassing them in May, falsely accusing them of letting their dogs use the bathroom in his yard.
"That was the whole basis for all of this and went on for weeks and weeks," Paul’s mother-in-law said.
The Wilson family claimed Bates called police on them several times to make false accusations against them in the weeks leading up to the shooting. Paul Wilson's widow said she last spoke with Bates about two weeks before the shooting and she thought everything had been resolved.
"He came over, were supposed to let bygones be bygones. I shook his hand," said Wilson.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the ongoing investigation.
The family has set up an online account to help pay for Paul's funeral. Anyone who would like to donate can go to gofundme.com/BethPaulWilson.